Networking is an often misused prospecting technique. We find ourselves seeking out any individual we can spill our guts to about what we do. The hope is that we will stumble into that person who needs us and will buy our product or service. If we don’t find that person we write it off as a good opportunity to get our name out there. So in a few hours we have talked to a bunch of people looking to sell their product or service and in many cases got nothing accomplished. Why? Because everyone in the room is looking to tell and sell. Most people at networking events aren’t listening but rather waiting for their chance to speak. Get noticed at a networking event by making the conversation totally about them.
You get what you give. It’s a cliché but one that holds true. Instead of having your sales hat on at a networking event, have your helping hat on. You will catch people off guard because you are doing something out of the ordinary and are likely to be remembered because of it. Instead of asking what someone does and searching their words for a sign that they might need your product or service, really listen. After you have listened to what they do ask them what their ideal client looks like. Let them paint you a picture. After they tell you, let them know that you will keep an eye out for anyone at the event that might meet their criteria. I’ll let you in on a trade secret. Often times they will reciprocate. They will ask you what you do and what your ideal prospect is. If this happens, the worst-case scenario is that you’ve doubled your chance of bumping into the right person. Frequently the best thing that happens is that the person you just met sees you as an ally, will remember you because you did something different, and will remember what it is you do.
The best leads we ever get are referrals. Using this technique you stand a chance of getting referrals from people you just met. If they find your ideal prospect they will frequently steer them in your direction. The key is to listen to them and steer their ideal prospect in their direction. People are skeptical and it is natural that they won’t believe you are truly looking for prospects for them. The moment you actually do that skepticism will melt away and they will be looking to reciprocate. This works the best in a networking group you participate in regularly. You’ll be surprised at how many allies you would build up in a short period of time. If done well any person that comes to that networking group with even a hint of a want or need for your service will end up being guided right to you. So give to people at networking events and you’ll see the abundance of what you’ll receive in return.